Complement-fixing activity of fulvic acid from Shilajit and other natural sources

Phytother Res. 2009 Mar;23(3):373-84. doi: 10.1002/ptr.2635.


Shilajit has been used traditionally in folk medicine for the treatment of a variety of disorders, including syndromes involving excessive complement activation. Extracts of Shilajit contain significant amounts of fulvic acid (FA), and it has been suggested that FA is responsible for many therapeutic properties of Shilajit. However, little is known regarding the physical and chemical properties of Shilajit extracts, and nothing is known about their effects on the complement system. To address this issue, extracts of commercial Shilajit were fractionated using anion exchange and size-exclusion chromatography. One neutral (S-I) and two acidic (S-II and S-III) fractions were isolated, characterized and compared with standardized FA samples. The most abundant fraction (S-II) was further fractionated into three sub-fractions (S-II-1 to S-II-3). The van Krevelen diagram showed that the Shilajit fractions are the products of polysaccharide degradation, and all fractions, except S-II-3, contained type II arabinogalactan. All Shilajit fractions exhibited dose-dependent complement-fixing activity in vitro with high potency. Furthermore, a strong correlation was found between the complement-fixing activity and carboxylic group content in the Shilajit fractions and other FA sources. These data provide a molecular basis to explain at least part of the beneficial therapeutic properties of Shilajit and other humic extracts.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Benzopyrans / chemistry*
  • Benzopyrans / isolation & purification
  • Chromatography, Gel
  • Complement Fixation Tests*
  • Erythrocytes / drug effects
  • Galactans / metabolism
  • Humic Substances*
  • Linear Models
  • Medicine, Traditional
  • Plant Extracts / chemistry*
  • Plant Extracts / isolation & purification
  • Sheep


  • Benzopyrans
  • Galactans
  • Humic Substances
  • Plant Extracts
  • arabinogalactan
  • fulvic acid